Wine in the Most Precious Blood

The weather is rainy. Heavy gray clouds threaten to explode any minute while the two winegrowers and the winegrower, rubber boots on their feet, survey their domain. Many berries are attacked by mildew, a fungus that makes them dry, blackened and unusable.

The 2022 season was marked by humidity and a rainy spring, which is reflected in the health of many vines. And after this busy second summer, the three are waiting for an exciting moment: that of the launch of the first bottles of the Très-Précieux-Sang vineyard.

Cases have been sold to customers on their website, but a good part of the production will go to restaurants. The restaurants, we have always found it sexysays Vincent Laniel, who happens to be a sommelier at the Montreal restaurant Candide.

Introduced to the world of wine by sommelier Emily Campeau, Vincent Laniel is known in the industry as Vincent Sulfite. His weekly newsletter brings together his suggestions for bottles to buy at the SAQ. He participated in the series Supernaturalproduced by Quebecor, and later published a book on natural wine.

But between serving wine in a gourmet restaurant and looking after thousands of vines all day, there is a big step to take. Yet it was a dream tenacious enough to want to realize it. After having tested their interest by planting a few vines at Félix’s parents’, the three partners began to look for a place to establish themselves permanently.

We spent so much time on Centris looking for land, very often outside our budget, says Laurence Veri. For her, it was first and foremost about establishing contact with nature.

The trio heard about a vineyard for sale on a row in the Précieux-Sang sector of Bécancour, formerly Très-Précieux-Sang-de-Notre-Seigneur.

It is once again pushed by Emily Campeau that Vincent Laniel agrees to visit the place. She said to me: “Go ahead! Suddenly someone in your profession is buying it, making natural wine here and showing you around in two years…”

On June 30, 2021, the Pignons Verts vineyard, a winery focused on the sale of bulk grapes, officially became the Très-Précieux-Sang vineyard, in reference to the unusual name of the municipality of yesteryear.

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The Très-Précieux-Sang vineyard is made up of vines planted by the former owner and one hectare of new ones since this year. | Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexis Boulianne

Despite a spring frost, the year 2021 was one of the mildest in the history of Quebec viticulture. Little rain, heat until the harvest… Difficult to wish for better for a first season to grow grapes.

Five cuvées were drawn from this first harvest, and four will reach the largest number of customers, the last being a piquette produced in microquantities. A rosé, a maceration wine, a red wine and a wine that contains a portion of wild apple juice, tending towards dark rosé, complete the set. The cultivation is organic and the vinification is natural.

These are wines focused on freshness (they all contain a small amount of seyval) that can shine at the table thanks to their aging in old barrels.

Seasons

We return to take refuge from the rain that finally fell on the Bécancouroise countryside. Over coffee, the three comrades insist: these hazards that come with their new life are not a problem.

Our project is centered around pleasure, summarizes Laurence. We thought that if we could get paid to do that, to be outside, to take care of plants, we would have fun doing it, for a while anyway. We imagined we could start a career there.

Even though Félix, Laurence and Vincent had already started work in the field before the official purchase of the property, their first summer was not easy. In addition to having to work quickly with the vines, they had to build the cellar, which was done in the greatest haste.

But when you love what you do, chores aren’t a burden. We woke up at 5-6 a.m. because we were really late for work, but we had crazy energy.recalls Vincent.

When you’re in town and you’re working on something, it doesn’t matter if it’s dark at 4:15 p.m., you have to go to work. While here, you’re glued to the seasons, he continues, with a smile on his face. It is this energy, drawn from the natural cycle of rest and abundance, that now punctuates their lives.

I’ve never felt so much like a plant since we got here. »

A quote from Vincent “Sulfite” Laniel, sommelier and winemaker

Felix adds: We lose the notion of work because we have fun doing it, being outside and we are really close to the finished product. We see the fruits grow, become sweet, we transform them. I feel like I’m in the system.

Far from stopping at the hectare of vines already planted, the trio added another this year: this one is made up of white grape varieties, including chardonnay and the still uncommon Juneaudor, as well as other whites. hybrids.

The choice of grape varieties is, of course, a decision that will have a great influence on the final product. But the three colleagues first want to make sure that their vines will be happy in their soil, in their microclimate, because even having chosen an agricultural life, they will have to be able to take time off once in a while, after everything.

The lucie-kulhmann, if it had been an easier vine to work, maybe we would have had our weekends this year, says Vincent. We work in the heat, physically. Our body feels it, it feels like we shut down.

Thus, if the vine is happy, Félix, Laurence and Vincent are too; it’s about finding the right vine for the right place. And even though the trio still have a lot to learn, the mildew is doing some damage and the weather doesn’t always cooperate, they seem to have found the perfect place to put down roots.

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